Thursday, February 6, 2014

Reflections of Queen Snow White by David Meredith

What happens when "happily ever after" has come and gone? On the eve of her only daughter, Princess Raven's wedding, an aging Snow White finds it impossible to share in the joyous spirit of the occasion. The ceremony itself promises to be the most glamorous social event of the decade. Snow White's castle has been meticulously scrubbed, polished and oppulently decorated for the celebration. It is already nearly bursting with jubilant guests and merry well-wishers. Prince Edel, Raven's fiancé, is a fine man from a neighboring kingdom and Snow White's own domain is prosperous and at peace. Things could not be better, in fact, except for one thing: The king is dead. The queen has been in a moribund state of hopeless depression for over a year with no end in sight. It is only when, in a fit of bitter despair, she seeks solitude in the vastness of her own sprawling castle and climbs a long disused and forgotten tower stair that she comes face to face with herself in the very same magic mirror used by her stepmother of old. It promises her respite in its shimmering depths, but can Snow White trust a device that was so precious to a woman who sought to cause her such irreparable harm? Can she confront the demons of her own difficult past to discover a better future for herself and her family? And finally, can she release her soul-crushing grief and suffocating loneliness to once again discover what "happily ever after" really means? Only time will tell as she confronts The Reflections of Queen Snow White.

My take: 2 looks
This was a very easy read. At 155 pages, it is more novella than novel, and took only an afternoon of reading. I really wanted to love this book.

The premise of the book is quite smart: What happens to Snow White after she marries her Prince? Unfortunately, this look is limited to a very brief period of time after Prince Charming dies and before Princess Raven marries; perhaps a day in the life; when Snow finally buckles under sorrow. But I am getting ahead of myself...

At the heart of the book is a very forlorn Snow White, hair now streaked with gray. She is in the clutches of grief, and has been stagnant here for a year. Prince Charming was quite a bit older than Snow, and she seems to have been completely unprepared for the eventual passing of her elderly husband. Their daughter, Princess Raven, has been turned aside so often that she has made an appointment to see her mother.

Wandering the halls of the castle, Snow finds herself in front of the magic mirror, who encourages her to find the strength within herself which she has had all along.

And here is where my issues with the story begin.

First of all, this book has a bit of an identity crisis. It starts as a smartly written young adult book, providing more detail to a much-loved story. Then it becomes a bit of an erotic novel, with Charming ever so slowly, gently, passionately and descriptively taking Snow's virginity. Then it has a bit of inspiration, providing the hint of a Christian metaphor with the line, "Where I have gone you cannot follow" (reference John 8:21 for a very similar statement by Jesus).

As you know, if you try to do too many things, you don't do any of them well. And that is the case here.

While the book is a very easy one to read, it was ultimately unsatisfying. I wanted more. For example, give me some background on why Arglist (whose name is German for malice or fraud - brilliant!) was so mean to Snow. Tell me more about how the dwarves knew Charming. Give me more meat on Snow and Charming between wedding and death. And how did everyone react to Arglist dancing herself to death in fire-hot-poker shoes at the wedding reception? Does the author really want to portray Snow as a sensitive, malcontent with such fragile self-esteem that she would kill herself if she can't have a child? Honestly, she seemed too needy for Charming to tolerate. Have her stronger than that, or at least give us more glimpses into her past than the times she struggled. Give me more balance.

Overall, I recommend roughly 100 more pages of story; or a series, much like Gregory Maguire did with Oz. A book on Snow, Charming, Raven, the dwarves, and the mirror. THAT would be heaven!

I recommend only because it is short, and I think this author has potential.

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